Good Writing Makes Good Publicity

If you’re a publicity seeker you should have a website or, at the very least, a blog.  And if you have one of these, you should be writing something about what you do (or sell) AND about you.  Good writing makes good publicity.

Getting publicity starts with getting your message out.  Generating GOOD publicity comes with a strong message and good writing.  That means having something relevant to say and making sure you use correct grammar.

Here are some tips I found useful from an article on the New York University website called Writing for the Web:

  • Write clear, simple and effective content. The content of your site should be easy to read for everyone, preferably in a conversational style.
  • Front-load your text. Put the most important content on your page in the first paragraph, so that readers scanning your pages will not miss your main idea.
  • Chunk your content. Cover only one topic per paragraph.
  • Be concise. Write short paragraphs and minimize unnecessary words.
  • Write in active voice instead of passive voice. (Ex: ‘Tim taught the class’, instead of ‘the class was taught by Tim’.)
  • Choose lists over paragraphs. When possible use lists rather than paragraphs to make your content easier to scan.

There’s nothing worse that trying to read content that doesn’t make sense, have a point or hasn’t been through a spell check.  That’ll get you some publicity but it won’t be the kind you’re really seeking.

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Using Twitter as a Publicity Tool

publicityIn case you didn’t know, Twitter is one of the most powerful ways to get publicity in a relatively short period of time. When you think about it, our tweets and re-tweets have the potential to be seen by tens of thousands of followers on any given day of the week.  Publicity via Twitter has proven to boost readership of blogs, articles as well as generate sales. Speaking from personal experience, Twitter helped catapult my most recent book, How to Get on the News Without Committing Murder to #1 on Amazon a couple of years ago.

But that’s not really what this article is about. It’s about when and why you should re-tweet someone else’s post.

Here are some of my tips:

Only re-tweet a post that offers relevant information, an inspirational message you like or a valuable ‘how to’.

If someone is sending a blog or article, ALWAYS check the link to make sure it works. If the link is broken and you re-tweet without checking, it says you’re really not paying attention to your followers.

There are people on Twitter who are trying to make money. If you respect them and what they do, there’s no harm in re-tweeting their offers to help them with their publicity campaign.

If someone is sending a blog or article, try to read the post first before you re-tweet. It may not be something you want your name attached to.

If someone is doing nothing more than sending tweets and asking for re-tweets without engaging you in some form of other communication, I wouldn’t re-tweet. This person is self-serving and only interested in you helping to promote his or her agenda.

Always thank the person who re-tweeted your message and go the extra mile in re-tweeting something they’ve written. That’s why Tweetdeck is good to have.

If you have other tips, please share them here.

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Ask Duke University How to Put a New Spin on Bad Publicity

duke_resizeIt’s been eight years since three (now former) Duke University lacrosse players were accused of raping an exotic dancer during a party.  The story gained national attention because many, including a zealous prosecutor, saw it as a case of “white privilege”, at a seemingly untouchable private University, taking advantage of a poor young black woman (Crystal Mangum).  But in the end, charges were dropped, the prosecutor was fired and disbarred and the parents of the athletes reportedly walked away with millions of dollars as the result of lawsuits.

They say time heals all wounds and that’s apparently what Duke University is banking on.  The white house where the alleged crime took place was torn down in 2010 and this new building (pic on the left) is being built in its place.  When people drive down North Buchanan Blvd in Durham, NC, there will be no memory of what might of happened on the night of March 13, 2006.  Instead there will be this beautiful new structure that will stand out in an, otherwise, conservative, white neighborhood.

So how do you put a new spin on bad publicity?

Get rid of the evidence:  Tearing down the scene of the alleged crime instead of creating a “shrine” was a GREAT move on Duke’s part.  Out of sight—out of mind.

Never speak of it again:  A lot has happened in eight years.  The alleged suspects are long gone and the media rarely re-hashes old news especially if there was no prosecution.

Raise your profile in other areas:  In the years since the scandal, the lacrosse team has gone on to win back-to-back championships.  The men AND women’s basketball teams are always in the top 10.  And FINALLY, the school has a football team it can be proud of.

Keep the alleged suspects out of the spotlight:  Although Duke University has no control over what the alleged suspects might say now that the dust has settled, it would certainly be in everyone’s best interest to stay “mum” on the subject.  Not even an Oprah moment. According to author William Cohan, Duke reportedly agreed to pay $60 million to the three accused (with each player receiving $20 million) along with confidential terms and apparent silence provisions attached.  Perhaps they were sworn to silence FOREVER in the reported settlements.

Let the alleged victim hang herself:  Five years after the Duke lacrosse scandal,  Mangum found herself back in the news charged and convicted of second degree murder in the death of her live-in boyfriend.


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What Ferguson Has Taught Us About the Media

As a veteran journalist, with more than 30 years of experience under my belt, I have sat back and watched how the events of what happened in Ferguson, MO have played out in the media.  It has, in my opinion, been journalism at its worst.  It has shown us how ugly racism truly is and that coverage has been intentional.  Now before you say it’s a good thing that the media is showing America’s TRUE colors let me give you a few things to think about.

First, the media is not and never has been an UNBIASED organization.  Despite what you may be led to believe there is no such thing as objective reporting.  Every news director, producer and reporter in the field has an idea of how the “story” should be told.  There’s this “if it bleeds it leads”  mentality in the newsroom with lots of hype and sensationalism which the powers that be believe make for good TV AND ratings.  If the news has no entertainment value it doesn’t seem to be worth reporting.

Second:  The media is much more conservative than liberal as it has been accused of by certain extremist groups.  That’s because middle age white men still run most news organizations around the country and they see the world through their white privileged eyes.  You don’t know what circles they travel in beyond the newsroom environment and who may really be calling the shots.

If the media were truly “liberal” it would open the door of opportunity for more minorities to sit in decision-making positions without having to be second guessed by others.  Minorities in decision-making positions are more likely to flush out the truth and real meat of a Ferguson type story from the sensational hype.

Can white journalists accurately and fairly report Ferguson-type stories?  l believe some have good intentions but there’s also an old saying, unless you’ve walked in my shoes you cannot truly understand my experience. The media gives us what they think makes good TV from a skewed perspective.

Definition of conservative:  a person who is averse to change.  White men in power.  Think about it.

Third:  It’s all about the ratings and being first to report.  Gone are the days when “accuracy” was the absolute most important piece in a news story.  Now the attitude is:  be first with the breaking news and clean up the factual stuff later as the story develops.

Fourth:  Making the victim the suspect and the cause of his demise.  While the media is showing us the devastation and destruction from the actions of a white police officer against an unarmed black man, they also proceed to justify why the victim may have deserved what was coming to him.  This is their idea of “fair and balanced” news coverage.  What they fail or simply refuse to realize is reporting this angle incites rage on both sides.  But it makes for good TV.

Finally:  The REAL REVOLUTION will never be televised (that’s what Gil Scott Heron said). White men who control the media will always be threatened and intimidated by black men so when they feel the pressure they can turn the tide in their favor and viewers will never know what hit them.  Along with that,  many white folks, no matter how “liberal” they might want you to believe they are, would never want to give up their privilege.

White parents, even the trailer park trash, will NEVER, EVER have to warn their kids on how to behave when they encounter the police.  That’s what Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sean Bell, John Crawford and countless others have taught me WITHOUT the sensational media coverage.


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Investigative Journalism and the Ray Rice Story

For the past several days we have been bombarded with news and outrage over the Ray Rice video, which TMZ decided to release in its entirety just hours before the kickoff of Monday Night Football.  Coincidence?  I think not but that’s another story altogether.

Every news show has gone to great lengths to criticize any and everybody for their so-called role in the Ray Rice incident.  First we have Ray himself who immediately became the the poster boy for what a domestic violence abuser looks and behaves like.  Then we have Janay Palmer Rice, the poster girl for what a domestic violence victim supposedly looks like. She has been chastised for standing by her man, whom she turned around and married a month after the incident.  She’s also been labeled a gold-digger at the same time.   Oh and let’s not forget Ray’s mother, who has had the finger pointed at her for not teaching her son better moral values.

Then we have the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, and the Baltimore Ravens organization, who have been severely criticized over their handling of the incident.  Although Rice allegedly told Goodell he punched his fiancee, the media has jumped all over the NFL Commissioner saying he should have seen the video and how dare he not see the video and now that the video has been released, heads need to roll.

As a veteran journalist, I am starting to see something more often than not when it comes to my colleagues.  Some of them have become more REACTIONARY instead of doing the jobs they are paid to do—and that it to “investigate” and “dig” for the hard cold facts instead of waiting for someone else to do their jobs for them and then try to take the lead.

Instead, the media has allowed TMZ, a program that describes itself as gossip and entertainment news, covering celebrity news and Hollywood rumors to dictate the lead on this story.

The media has come down hard on Goodell and the Ravens for either not seeing the video or seeing it and lying about it.  Journalists everywhere are pointing the fingers at everyone but themselves.  What has happened to the Bob Woodwards’ and Carl Bernsteins’ of the world?  For those of you who may not know or may have forgotten, Woodward and Bernstein were reporters for The Washington Post in 1972, when they used their investigative skills to uncover the Watergate scandal.  This scandal led to numerous government investigations and the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon.  They didn’t wait for the story to be handed to them.  They went out and dug it up. They didn’t point fingers AFTER the fact.

Should this video have come to light?  Absolutely!  But the media has a responsibility to its viewers dig beyond the surface and uncover the “news” accurately and fairly.  Going into attack mode like a pit bull serves no purpose, other than ratings.

It would appear that true investigative journalism has become a thing of the past.  As long as a journalist looks like eye candy to the viewer, they don’t really have to work hard in their craft.  After all, the average viewer doesn’t really care about how the story is generated or if the facts have been verified.  Just look at Fox News.


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